It’s the last day of 2017. New Year’s Eve. Another year is slipping away. Most of my life I’ve regretted the passing of another year. Not so much this year.
I awoke this morning with no thoughts of C.S. Lewis’s White Witch of Narnia. No thoughts of hopelessness and despair.
Blue skies. Cold sun. Frost on the windows. Snow on the ground. A good day to hunker down by the fireplace, read a good book and recover from too much of a good thing.
Becky and I have been on the post-Christmas party circuit. Three parties in as many nights. We’re not party animals. Not by a long stretch. And this morning, I’m really not in a party mood.
I’ve just read the BBC news with my first cup of coffee. The headlines screamed, “Five police officers shot in Colorado.”
The photo shows a half dozen police cars arrayed around what appears to be a brightly lit convenience store. The caption reads, “Police were responding to a domestic disturbance at about 5:00 (12:00 GMT) at an apartment south of Denver.”
It happened in a place called Highlands Ranch. Highlands Ranch abuts Littleton, which, of course, is where Columbine High School, the scene of a mass shooting in 1999, is located.
Readers of the BBC’s lead story on this particular morning learn that the dead officer is “29-year-old Zackari Parrish, who was married with two children.” The shooter “used a rifle to fire at least 100 rounds before being killed.” He was reportedly a veteran of the war in Iraq, where he most likely saw firsthand the kind of violence most citizens of his and later generations will never know now.
Congress in its wisdom abolished the draft decades ago, but continues to fund endless wars. Meanwhile, blowhards on Capitol Hill tell us we aren’t spending enough!
President Trump tweeted his “deepest condolences to the victims of the terrible shooting in Douglas County….”
Actions speak louder than words. Shakespeare said it best in Othello: “Mere prattle without practice.”
Anyone who thinks we don’t have a problem in Colorado or that we don’t need to have an adult conversation about how to manage the problem is part of the problem.
Let’s be clear what the problem is. It’s not guns or guys who love guns. It’s guns getting into the wrong hands. The hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others.
That happens way too often here in Colorado, a fact that was not lost on the BBC: “Colorado has seen some of the worst mass shootings in US history….”
Sadly, here’s what people all over the world read about the United States on the last day of the year: “Over 15,000 people have been killed by guns in the United States in 2017.” This figure, the BBC reported, “does not include an estimated 22,000 annual suicides using firearms.”
To repeat, this was at the top of the list of “Most Read” stories on the BBC’s online news platform on the last day of the year.
According to one new study done by associate professor of criminal justice Adam Lankford at the University of Alabama, the first ever quantitative analysis of its kind, nearly one-third of the world’s mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 have occurred in the United States.
Why? As a society, we’re divided and dumbfounded. Lankford thinks a desire for fame may be a factor. "It's harder to quantify it, but…research that shows that being famous is one of this generation's most important goals. The fame-seeking rampage shooters will attempt to kill even more victims. We have seen this become almost a kind of competition.”
Many liberals were not all that sad to see 2017 end. Democrats expect 2018 to be a better year. (I wouldn’t bet on it.) Many of my conservative friends think 2017 was a terrific year and not a few worry that the Republicans will get hammered in the midterm elections in November. (I wouldn’t bet against it.)
When the ink dries it will be 2018. As time goes by, the sense of loss with each year that passes takes on an urgency I didn’t have—or don’t recall—when I was young, but I didn’t mind saying farewell to 2017.
2017. One for the books. Memorable in too many ways to recount here. Historic. Gut-wrenching. A grim reminder that in America more of the same can be a formula for another good year on Wall Street—or a death sentence.
Tom Magstadt writes and cooks in the log cabin of his dreams. He lives on a mountain in Ouray County and frequents Colorado Boy almost enough to qualify as a regular. Visit Tom’s blog at http://open.salon.com/blog/dakotakid